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MLS, Crew ownership release statements on Black Lives Matter protests

The league and the team came out in support of black men across the country.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the world, both sport and otherwise, continues to react to the murder of George Floyd, Major League Soccer and the Columbus Crew SC and Cleveland Browns ownership team have released statements regarding the issue, adding to the multitude of teams, leagues, and players commenting.

The statement from Crew and Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Crew investor/operator Pete Edwards, Black & Gold President and General Manger Tim Bezbatchenko, Crew manager Caleb Porter and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski read as follows:

Sports can be the great unifier in our communities for what teams do on the field and we must work together to elevate our efforts and our actions to ensure that we can be positive productive change agent off the field” began a statement from Crew ownership.

With yet more tragic deaths, we, as a nation and as individuals, must truly create meaningful dialogue, have difficult conversation, demonstrate real empathy and take productive and non-violent action to address injustices.

These are complex issues that no sports team can solve on its own. We can only help create change by working together with our community, our players and our entire region to find solutions.

We take great pride in our city and in our region and recognize the suffering in the African American community throughout the country. Although, we, like many others have worked to advocate for social justice, now more than ever, we must do even more to work collectively to end racism and bond together for justice and equality.

Similarly, MLS released a statement that read:

The entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless murder of George Floyd.

We stand united with the black community throughout our country and share in the pain, anger and frustration.

We hear you.

We see you.

We support you.

We are committed to use our voices and the platform of our League, our Clubs and our players to continue to champion equality and social justice.

Over the weekend, protests around the country took place after the death of George Floyd while in custody of police in Minnesota. Video was released of an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while detaining him and not getting up when Floyd could not breathe. Some of these peaceful protests in the U.S., including in Columbus, Ohio, got violent as police departments reacted to protesters.

As protests enter the fifth day in Columbus, several Crew players have given voice and support. Recently signed winger Derrick Etienne Jr. was particularly active, participating in protests throughout the weekend and updating via his personal twitter.

The Crew midfielder tweeted Saturday, “What I saw today in downtown Columbus will stay with me for the rest of my life. I want to thank everyone who is down there.... as a young black man in America I’m truly grateful for all the people that felt it was only right to go there and peacefully protest injustice.”

He followed up the tweet the next day with “I understand not all cops are bad. But the silent ones still a major part of the problem. Because what I see is alot of people saying it’s not all cops. So please tell me this. Why are sooo many cops lined up ready to stop protests? But very few lining up to protest.”

On Monday, Etienne tweeted he was stopped by police officers two different times on the way home from working out. Etienne said during one stop, the officer said, “you look like you have warrants.” Etienne said neither stop resulted in a ticket, but said “the emotional and psychological ramifications had already been done.” He went on to say “I couldn’t help but feel frustrated because both officers were out of line and racially profiled me.” He concluded by saying “...we must put behind foolish and hateful stereotypes and accept all people the way God intended us to...by the content of our character not by the color of our skin.”

Teammate Jordan Hamilton later retweeted the note, saying he was in Etienne’s car when something similar happened two days ago.

As of the writing of this article, the Columbus Police had not commented.